Conjuring is a wild experiment where we challenged each other to try to create a seamless score for both sound and movement, where each relies completely on the other. We play with structures in sound and movement that move into alignment and then out of alignment, kind of like an eclipse or the perfect incantations needed for a spell. We like to think that through our connection as performers in this piece we are bringing something into existence that wasn’t there before. We are conjuring a new way of being, a change that leaves the world forever altered.
How did the two of you get started in your respective fields?
Maggie: I started dancing when I was five. For me dance has always been the path, even if I didn’t want it to be. Somehow dance and embodiment dragged me out of whatever other ideas I had in my head about what I should do.
Nick: I also started when I was five. They didn’t have basses that small so the orchestra teacher at the time put me on a cello standing upright, and tuned it like a bass. I primarily studied classical music through my younger years, but once I was a teenager, it seemed that the accessible styles for bass were endless. I did bluegrass, jazz, rock, and classical all at the same time. After I graduated college, it was easy to find work being a versatile performer so I stayed pretty current in all styles.
Nick, who are your inspirations in music, be that in bass or whatever comes to mind?
Nick: If you asked me this question 10 years ago, I would probably rattle off famous bass players and music bands. But my philosophy has shifted. I think inspiration is all around and can be connected to anything we come in contact with, or anything we can think of or recall. In addition to humans, I believe inspiration can come from the surrounding colors, sounds, tastes, landscapes, relationships, and events. I think if I had to pinpoint an exact inspiration to sum this up, I would say the scene in Mulholland Drive in the theater is chalked full of inspiration. The women that sings “Llorando” a cappella and then topples over is by far one of (what I believe) the most fascinating works I have seen. It’s followed up by the emcee saying “There is no band.” It’s colorful, moving, and yet simple all at the same time.
Maggie, when looking for a piece of music or art in general to choreograph a routine to, what do you think stands out and sparks creativity in you?
Maggie: My work usually begins with a feeling or a situation or a series of events. And then I’m happy to say I married a composer, so I then ask him to make sound for me! At that point we work together on the structure, sound, mood, I rarely ever find music first and then make work to it. I’m much more interested in creating both the sound and movement together instead of letting one come first and then creating a reaction.
How do the two of you look at the process of collaboration, and how important do you think it is, both with each other and in the world at large?
Maggie: It is so huge in how we work together, but it also is really the way the world works. There is great reassurance in a process with someone I trust. It can get so messy when one person sees a direction and the other doesn’t. Or there is real disagreement in the way the work should move forward. But somehow the space of not-knowing feels deeper when working in collaboration, and there is something to be said about working through the not-knowing and the real conflict to get something into the world. Nick and I remodeled our bathroom about ten years ago, and we spent about three hours in Menards talking through and visualizing and telling each other our ideas. It was so so hard. But now our bathroom rocks! :)
Nick: And so does our kitchen!
Anything else you would like to add?
Nick: Collaboration takes more than just being a “team player.” I think the hardest lesson for me in collaboration is knowing when to back down, knowing when to listen, and knowing when to be vulnerable to change. It takes a great amount of mental power to manage internal thoughts during the process. I don’t think it’s ever easy, and if it is easy, then there’s probably a missing component where someone isn’t being honest, or someone is holding back. I think this is why the collaboration with Zeitgeist was such a different experience. We tried to stay transparent whenever possible and attempted to craft a work that attempted to be distributed between all members of the ensemble. I don’t know if we achieved that arrival point, but it was something to work towards during the creative process.